Close calls are no fun. Let's ask Maya, who nearly paid the price for the ultimate thrill on Monday.
On Monday, October 28, the "St Jude's storm" swept in off the Atlantic and hit Nazaré, Portugal, creating some of the biggest waves ever seen. Maya Gabeira and Carlos Burle were out in them, and Maya hit big trouble.
The crash: "Carlos towed me into a really nice big left, and on the third bump I reckon I broke my ankle when I fell. That wipeout was OK. It was a little bit of a hold-down, and the second one was pretty strong, and I think I was almost on the shorebreak for the third one and that was when the problems started, because it hit me on my chest and it blew out my life jacket, and it really hurt me – so I went down, down, down underwater with no air and seeing black. Somehow I made it up, but when I hit the surface everything went white, so I didn't have any vision."
The rescue: "From what I saw on the footage, Carlos came twice to grab me but I had no movement or reaction. Finally, he yelled at me to grab the rope, and I think that was my last little bit of energy to get me maybe five or 10 feet away from the current I was stuck in. I was going into the rocks, but, because I was being dragged, my face was underwater. I was pretty much blacked-out by then and my hand let go of the rope. A couple of waves went over me and Carlos found me again, and I was closer to the shore, so he jumped off the ski and dragged me to the shore and CPR'd me and… uh… thank God he brought me back to life. It gets peaceful when you black out. When you're gone, you're gone. And I knew before I was gone that the only thing I could do was to try my very hardest to get as close as I could to the shore so Carlos could do his part."
Hospital thoughts: "That I was just lucky to be alive. And I was lucky I trained as much as I do, and that I have the best partner in the world, and that our efforts at the end of the day weren't perfect. Sometimes we make mistakes, but in the very end we were able to save my life. And I think that's what matters.